I was inclined to cut the Obama administration some slack initially in regard to the crisis in Egypt. It is a tough situation and it was difficult to see anything that the US could or should do. Mubarak has been a friend to the US during his 30 years in power, faithfully kept the peace with Israel, and worked with our intelligence agencies against Islamic terrorism. However, there is no doubt that he is a dictator, albeit one of the best of a very bad lot in the Middle East where dictatorship is the norm outside of Israel, Turkey and Iraq, and no American can weep for his fall. However, what replaces him could be far worse. A tough situation and not a whole lot the US can do to influence events. Therefore I was initially sympathetic to Obama’s dilemma.
However, the utter cluelessness of his administration throughout this mess has ended my sympathy. Endless, feckless posturing, combined with impotence, is not a foreign policy but rather a vaudeville act. This was on full display yesterday when Leon Panetta, CIA director, stated publicly that he had reports that indicated Mubarak would be stepping down yesterday. This was completely erroneous as events proved, but it made worldwide headlines. It then turned out that Panetta was not basing his prediction on intelligence gathered by his spooks, but rather on media reports. I can think of few better illustrations of the level of amateurish bungling that has been the hallmark of the Obama administration in regard to everything they have touched. The Obama Doctrine consists of the following elements:
1. Speak loudly and carry no stick.
2. Watch a lot of tv to find out what is going on in the world.
3. Make endless statements to the press and, never, ever, have a plan as to what to do if you actually have to back up the statements.
4. Always remember to never let a crisis go to waste and attempt to get maximum positive press coverage out of it, because that is what all crises are truly about.
5. Obama needs another Nobel Peace Prize to keep his first one company.
My favorite living historian Victor Davis Hanson sums it all up:
All the above said, the actual implementation reflects somebody with the experience of two years in the Senate, who had never navigated outside of academia and Chicago tit-for-tat politics. So Mubarak is/is not a dictator, must leave now/yesterday/sometime soon as he serves as sort of a figurative leader/a critical transition player/a suspicious counter-revolutionary inasmuch as the U.S. must lay down conditions/advise only/respect Egyptian prerogatives, as private conversations with Egyptians are spilled to the press, Obama suggests the Cairo desire for freedom somehow channels his own support, and Biden, Clinton, and Obama contradict one another hourly.
It all reminds me of a tough school as a youth I went to in the proverbial barrio; there was a very nice, quite smart kid who used to lecture everyone about being nice to each other, usually under the watchful eye of playground teachers. Finally, the school’s thugs and punks simply took his lunch money away—every day—teachers or not. They let him talk even more as compensation but he had to borrow his lunch money from us to eat. Quite unfair.